Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

The Birds, the Bees, and the Bible: Single African American Mothers' Perceptions of a Faith-Based Sexuality Educaton Program

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

The Birds, the Bees, and the Bible: Single African American Mothers' Perceptions of a Faith-Based Sexuality Educaton Program

Article excerpt

Abstract: This exploratory study examined single mothers' ideas on the development of a faith-based sexuality program. Twenty African American single mothers with adolescent children (11 to 13 years of age) who were of the same faith and members of one church, participated in two focus groups about how a faith-based sexuality program could be designed and implemented. The findings call attention to the need for research on the design of faith-based sexuality education programs for ethnic minority families headed by single mothers.

Key Words: African American Women, Dance Intervention, Functional Capacity

African Americans represent 52% of the individuals infected with HIV in the United States and 50% of those with AIDS; 46% of those with chlamydia and 79% of those with syphilis. The prevalence of gonorrhea is 51 times higher in this group than any other ethnic group (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC}, 2005; Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2000). However, African Americans represent less than 13% of the total U.S. population (CDC, 2005).

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), most notably HIV/AIDS, have now reached epidemic proportions in the southern region of the United States (Southern States Manifesto, 2003). Despite efforts by the CDC to develop HIV prevention initiatives, rates of STIs and HIV infection remain dangerously high among southern African American-adolescents.

FAITH-BASED HEALTH PROMOTION PROGRAMS

African Americans are one of the most religious ethnic groups in the industrialized world (Taylor, Mattis & Chatters, 1999). Many diseases such as HIV are preventable, and church leaders can persuade their congregants to design and implement programs to prevent the spread of this disease. Community institutions such as churches have the ability to shape and influence social and religious norms; they have a presence in the community; and they have access to people of diverse backgrounds who may be marginalized or disenfranchised (Hicks, Allen & Wright, 2005; Peterson, Atwood, & Yates, 2002).

People turn to clergy leaders for guidance, support, and prayer when they are confronted with physical health problems. Clergy leaders have the ability to influence the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of their congregants. For example, African-American adolescents who live in the southern region report more church attendance and greater emphasis on religion in their decision to delay sexual activity (Wallace & Williams, 1997). Faith-based sexuality education programs in the African-American church can serve as a protective factor against risky adolescent sexual behaviors. However, clergy leaders have been slow to respond to the HIV epidemic with youth in their churches. Coyne-Beasley and Schoenbach (2000) found that only 6% of Black clergy leaders indicated that they would make condoms available and allow open discussions for sexuality education with the youth of their church. In fact, one study with 635 African-American churches found that only 28% of the churches had at least one adolescent health promotion program (Rubin, Billingsley, & Caldwell, (1994). Additionally, many churches were not addressing significant social problems facing African American adolescents. Although clergy leaders have been slow to respond to the HIV epidemic in areas of prevention and education, input from parents could smooth the progress of HIV prevention program development. Many adolescents with STIs are from single-parent families (Satcher, 2001). Adolescents from these households receive less parental supervision, which has been associated with earlier sexual debuts and increased frequency in sexual activity (Kirby, 2001). However, single mothers who are accessible through community-based venues such as churches can serve as a valuable intervention point for adolescents at risk for STIs. Integrating spirituality into HIV prevention intervention programs can be an effective approach for helping single mothers address sexuality issues with their adolescent children. …

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